Pan Bagnat

Summer is not summer without a pressed sandwich.The Pan Bagnat (pahn bah nyah, saying the`n´ in pan through your nose) is a make ahead sandwich from the South of France that´s a whole meal in itself, an essential for the beach basket and the ideal picnic item.This sandwich has the power to transport you to France.Use the wrong kind of bread and you won´t be going anywhere,the result will be an awful mush.This is a sturdy sandwich, built and layered on artisan bread then filled with tuna,tomatoes, sweet peppers,olives,some greens possibly, olive oil and anchovies.A whole lotta Salade Niçoise in some hefty bun I hear you mutter.Well, back in my outside catering days of nouvelle sandwich delivery the celebrated Pan Bagna( Italian derivative) came a very close second to Chicken and peperonata in a foccacia.The wonderful thing about this sandwich is that wherever you are in the world you will always be able, in one way or another, to find the right ingredients for the recipe.That said you have to be a little selective about what you fill it with or it will become something else.For instance put Provolone or mozzarella in it, or any form of cured meats, and it becomes a Muffaletta.The Muffaletta is as Creole as the kicked up Portuguese boy who re-invented it.This is pure Italian brought to New Orleans by the Sicilians.A round hero full of Italian ham, salami, mortadella,provolone cheese,  and an oily olive or two.The versatility of the Pan Bagnat is that it allows you to make a choice between one big loaf or smaller individual rolls. An extra large ciabatta is perfect for the job and slices beautifully into fingers of Mediterranean juiciness.With summer ticking away fast you will be hard pressed to find a better lunch than this. Slice it into wedges or fingers and be generous when distributing the napkins.Pour an Algarvian oaked Rosé from Quinta Barranco Longo and you´ll think you´re in the South of France.or in the East Algarve at least.
1 large country loaf with a sturdy coarse crumb or 4 crusty sandwich rolls
2 large cloves of garlic,peeled and cut in half
Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
coarsely torn basil and chopped mint leaves
2 ripe but firm medium tomatoes,sliced
1 tin of flaked tuna,drained
8-10 oil cured olives,pitted
2 heaped teaspoons capers
1 sweet yellow pepper,cored seeded,membranes removed and sliced into thin rounds
1 sweet red pepper,cored seeded,membranes removed and sliced into thin rounds
2 hard-boiled eggs.sliced
handful of fava beans, peeled
Flor de sal and freshly ground black pepper

Cut your bread in half length wise.Rub both of the insides of the bread with the cut sides of the garlic cloves and then drizzle with olive oil.Layer all the ingredients on the bottom half of the bread drizzle with olive oil or if you want a more proveçal taste some vinaigrette.Season with salt and pepper to taste.Cover with the top half of the bread.Wrap the sandwich up in parchment or waxed paper and press with heavy weight for aminimum of 30 minutes but a couple of hours is better for all the flavours to meld together.Happy picnics everyone.


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